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Eating at Baco Mercat LA
07/02/2012 (rev. 08/11/2012) by
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It was my cousin’s birthday, so she wanted to try this place because of all the rave Yelp reviews.  Took the train to downtown LA and then hiked about a mile to this place.  I hadn’t seen any of the reviews yet, but I personally take Yelp reviews like a grain of salt because from past experiences my palette seems to be very much different than the majority (or maybe it’s just that I’m picky?).  I jumped into this restaurant without much thought, so let’s see what came out of it.

I got there about 15 minutes late, so I suggested my cousin and her party start eating.  They saved this little thing for me.  Fried Ricotta stuffed Squash Blossom.  This was pretty good in that it’s basically one of those stuffed fried dumplings with tomato, pine nuts, and basil.  The only one minor complaint was that it wasn’t crispy at all.

This is the Heritage Pork Rillettes.  This was probably one of the tastiest plates for today.  It’s basically a big piece of hollow bread stuffed with shredded pork (think carnitas).  The pork was flavored well although at some points it was rather salty.

This is the inside of the Heritage Pork Rillettes.  If you want something hearty and meaty, this is what I’d get here.  The other dishes we got were just not even close to being as meaty as this plate.

This was the salad for today.  Caesar Brussels Sprouts.  Hide your kids if they don’t like brussels sprouts.  Typically when you think of caesar salad, you think of cold lettuce.  Instead, this came out warm, probably because they have to cook the brussels sprouts to tenderness.  I wasn’t a big fan of this, but I appreciate how healthier it could be compared to using iceberg/romaine lettuce.

Blistered Okra.  If you know me, you would know these are dishes I would probably not order, but I’m always open to trying different things.  Okra is one of those vegetables that people either hate it or love it.  I am impartial to it.  The okra was basically sauteed with tomato, garlic, and basil.  It came out rather soggy.  The tomato sauce vividly reminds me of the big salsa plastic tub you’d buy at Costco.  There is some uncanny resemblance, and I would hate to ask the chef if they did that.

On to the sandwiches.  This is the Beef Tongue Schnitzel.  It has harissa, smoked aioli, and pickle.  The beef tongue was pretty good and so was the harissa (red sauce).  Harissa provided a nice kick to the beef.  A part of me wishes this wasn’t a sandwich but more of a plate where we assemble the ingredients together.

This is the “TNA”.  It costs of tork (turkey + pork belly), black forest ham, and avocado.  The turkey was thinly sliced and was pretty moist.  Black forest ham in general I don’t really care for.  The pork belly was a decent chunk size, but it was way meaty and not as fatty as I’d expect from pork belly.  All in all, this sandwich tasted like other delis.

This was one of the more tasty dishes at this place.  Sauteed Peaches comes with goat cheese, honey, and hazelnut.  I think typically they’d sprinkle the goat cheese on top of the peaches, but my party seems to resent goat cheese and asked for it on the side.  I tried the goat cheese with the peaches, and it was delicious.  Peaches weren’t overly sweet and were soft, and the honey worked well with it.

This is Hamachi Crudo.  It comes with abkhazian chile spice, avocado, and a hash brown.  The chili spice wasn’t spicy at all, but it did provide distinct flavoring to the hamachi.  I think I would have preferred sesame oil instead of the chile spice.  The avocado was forgettable.  The hash brown was just a little strange to complement it.  I think it would’ve been more interesting had that been a fried hamachi ball.

Everyone says we should get this Bazole.  The bazole is basically a house made pork-chile broth with noodles, pork & beef carnitas, and a fried egg.  This resembles a little like Taiwanese beef noodle soup, but just not as good.  The broth was suppose to be spicy, but we found it way too tame and asked for some more heat.  With the added heat, the soup is decently good, but unfortunately it comes no where as close as Taiwanese beef noodle.  There definitely is not enough noodles to please a ramen eater.  The noodles are similar to the Ichiban packages you might find in Asian markets.  They are slightly thicker than spaghetti noodles and are very wavy.

The last dish for today was The Salty Jowl.  It’s a flat bread with guanciale, tomato, ricotta, and fried egg.  This was pretty forgettable and disappointing.  Just the sound of those ingredients together doesn’t even make me want to talk much about it.

All in all, I felt Baco Mercat was a decent place.  I wouldn’t come back here again, and neither would I highly recommend it to other people.  Perhaps it’s due to my palette, but nothing here really struck me as delicious except for the peaches and pork rillettes.  If you have tried many tapas like places already, then it doesn’t hurt to give this a shot.

Visit: http://bacomercat.com, Downtown Los Angeles

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